So much is going on in the world right now. This article explores the two fundamental components of remote work that buffer against the monumental stress brought about by the violence of global wars and emotional demands in the workplace.
- Tips for helping remote staff deal with work chaos and friction
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Welcome to global chaos and wars
Hyper inflation, societal upheaval, norms confusion, food famine, economic slow downs or overheated economies (depending upon the statistics read for the day), more variants of the COVID-19 on the horizon. Oh. Did I not mention war in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Columbia, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Myanmar, and Israel (see the list of global conflicts with war casualties from 1,000 to 10,000).
The global stage appears to be blowing up. Right before our very eyes. Its no wonder. How might we keep our sanity? How do we go about our daily work life? How do we maintain our productivity, improved product quality, engaged customer service, lowered costs, and high employee morale in the midst of such confusion? Is it even possible?
You would think that remote workers working from home would be less impacted by worldwide societies in disarray. Systems torn asunder. But we are not. War, conflict and discord inflicts pain upon everyone. Just take a look at the data.
Negative impact of war on families and children
The American Journal of Psychiatry estimated about five years ago that more than 1 billion children live in war torn countries that are engaged in armed conflict and terrorism. And, unlike what many falsely believe, war can last a long time. Psychiatrists determined that wars throughout history have been engaged over periods that can last the entire childhood span of growth and development.
In addition to the livelihoods the world’s most vulnerable, about 60 million people worldwide says the United Nations High Commission of Refugees estimated were involuntarily displaced (using aggressive force) from their homes.
These may be of interest
- 9 signs your remote workplace is toxic
- Workplace safety tips when working from home
- Avoiding becoming the target of crime as a digital nomad
How does war, conflicts between nations, and worldwide havoc effect remote workers, online business entrepreneurs, digital nomads working from anywhere and virtual team members?
High emotional demands= Workplace chaos
A review of the literature indicates that emotional demands related to work life can be expressed in the following manner:
- witnessing, being exposed to, or informed about the suffering of clients under your purview (book of business),
- becoming the victim or target of client threats of violence or client initiated violence,
- being on the receiving end of unrealistic demands and impractical expectations from clients.
Emotional demands in workplace defined
The European Work Conditions Survey No. 6 defined the emotional demands as those that occur when a person is carrying out his/her/their daily job tasks. In this regard, when an employee is faced with exorbitant amount of emotional demands beyond the societal norms of extending and receiving mutual positive regard in client interactions, the employee must:
- hide one’s true emotions and feelings while simultaneously being attacked personally or placed under pressure,
- handle communications with angry clients (as a key job function) in a professional, nondefensively,
- work with a high level of competency in situations that can be emotionally disturbing.
Review of I/O studies on emotional demands of work
Based upon these definitions, Small Business Economics set out to learn more about emotional demands in the workplace. Economists conducted research based upon 273 entrepreneurs based in France. They found that overburdensome emotional demands were closely associated with entrepreneurial burnout.
International findings overall: emotional demands
Not all emotional demands are the same: Emotional demands from clients and co-workers’ relations have different associations with Research was undertaken to determine how emotional demands impact the well-being of service workers. The study findings based upon data from almost 3,000 participants and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health demonstrated that the emotional pressure placed upon customer service workers by both clients and colleagues were equally stressful.
In this above I/O psychology study, not only were front line workers negatively impacted by high emotional demands but supervisors and managers responsible for adversely impacted staff. Conversely, high emotional demands of clients had a positive association with managers without direct supervisory responsibility of the impacted front line workers.
Emotional demands at work: Korean study
Another study focusing on high emotional demands based in Korea examined the mental health of more than 50,000 workers from not just customer service or self employed entrepreneurs, but encompassing all occupational classifications. The study spanned regular fulltime employees, unpaid workers in family sweat shops, and independent contractors.
As with the study informing us on the stressors imposed upon entrepreneurs, it was found that if other stressors where added in addition to the typical stress a small business owner faces daily (meeting payroll, having enough resources to cover sales and pay bills, and building a pipeline of new customer orders) there was a significant possibility that the entrepreneur would experience depression and anxiety.
Denmark: Emotional demands study in the workplace
Korean workers were not alone, across the globe in Denmark, researchers concluded that emotionally demanding work, emotionally disturbing situations revolving around work, and emotional involvement in work was associated with “a 1.5-fold increase in risk of long-term sickness absence and also associated with a 1.19 or 1.32-fold increase in risk of hospital-treated depressive disorder.”
What were some of the other stressors acerbating the problems associated with high emotional demands?
- low social support from others (family, friends, work colleagues, and supervisors), and
- low job security (business uncertainty, economic instability and competition from other unemployed job seekers).
While the results of the I/O psychological studies we’ve mentioned above may pose a depressing picture. There is good news to be shared.
Remote jobs are buffers against negative emotional demands
There are two evidence-based buffers that will help workers prevent the burnout associated with emotional demands in the workplace as well as some of the preventable (?) global chaos occurring right now. At this moment.
- job autonomy, or the flexibility to determine how best to schedule their day and/or carry out their job functions. The very concept of remote flexibility is as varied as the workers who prefer this type of working arrangement. Harvard Business Review puts it this way, “the ability to connect and get work done from anywhere,” or working for an employer who “we’ll let you work from home a couple times a week.”
- job satisfaction, says Positive Psychology can be defined as “as any combination of psychological, physiological, and environmental circumstances that cause a person to truthfully say that they are satisfied with a job.”
In these two instances, hybrid, remote workers, digital nomads working from anywhere, remote members of virtual teams can rest assured that job autonomy and job satisfaction are embedded in the very essence of remote work.